Pop quiz. Who prepared more for today’s game, the YouTube broadcast crew, or the D’backs hitters and scouts against Tim Melville? My rhetorically sarcastic question is unfair to the D’backs considering they had less than 24 hours to prepare for Melville’s start. He was called up by the Colorado Rockies for an emergency start after Jon Gray was placed on the injured list with a fractured left foot. Torey Lovullo commented that he did not learn Melville was making the start until 11:00 PM last night leaving almost no time for his staff to develop a plan of attack.. Melville began this year pitching in the independent leagues and was making his first MLB appearance since 2017, but the inexperience was hardly a factor as he dominated Arizona over seven innings.
Today’s game was broadcast on YouTube. This meant that for only the second time in the five years I’ve owned my current TV I had to figure out how to work the YouTube app on my set. It’s not something you really ever have to do seeing as we have YouTube in the palm of our hands with a smartphone. There were pros and cons of watching it this way. I enjoyed not having to tolerate commercials for the duration of the broadcast, but some in the broadcast crew left room for improvement in my opinion. I could have skipped this broadcast entirely and attended the game in person, but seeing that it was going to be pushing 114 degrees, and I’m traveling with the team to Milwaukee this weekend, I figured I’d save my energy and money.
Melville’s opponent on the mound was Mike Leake making his fourth start for the D’backs. The SnakePit Twitter account would point out later in the game he’s in the realm of the worst D’backs hurlers who have thrown over twenty innings in the uniform. For today, he fell victim to death by a thousand singles. Seven to be more exact. The first three Rockies singled against Leake to begin the game, and some did so successfully against the shift which resulted in criticism of the defensive strategy by Jeremy Affeldt and Eric Byrnes in the booth. Those three singles by Raimel Tapia, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon allowed Colorado to jump out to a two run lead in the first inning. Arizona would manage to get a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the first on a double from Eduardo Escobar. They nearly had a chance to tie the score after David Peralta followed with a walk and Jake Lamb hit a deep fly to the warning track in the right field corner, but Charlie Blackmon made a tremendous leaping catch to end the inning.
The Rockies only extra base hit against Mike Leake came in the second inning on a double from Dom Nunez with two outs, but nothing would come of that. The 2-0 score would hold until the fourth inning which arrived rather quickly as Leake and Melville retired the next eleven batters in a row after the Nunez double. The game spiraled out of Leake’s hands in the fourth inning after he hit Yonder Alonso in the ribs with one out. From there the Rockies small balled him to oblivion going single, single, sac fly, single, single pushing the score 5-0 in their favor. They weren’t loud screaming singles either as the D’backs had a few opportunities to turn some of them into double plays, but they ended up just past the outstretched gloves of the D’backs infielders.
Whereas Leake could not settle down through the heart of the game, Melville did and truly took control of the story making it all about his journey to today. He commented postgame that as of this April he had actually watched a game in the stands of Chase Field with his wife, and was working at a barbecue restaurant in the Valley demonstrating just how much had to go right for him this season to get to this point. His inside breaking pitches proved difficult for D’backs hitters to lay off of. At one point in the game, Melville set down eleven D’backs in order and eventually 19 of 21. The only run Arizona managed off of him over seven innings was Ketel Marte’s 27th home run of the season, a solo shot to right field in the sixth inning. Outside of that blemish, he was downright dominant even adding to his own cause with two runs batted in. Who knows if he’ll continue to have this success as the league adjusts to him, but regardless he’ll have today’s highlight reel to reflect on for the rest of his life.
Joel Payamps came on in relief of Leake in the top of the sixth making his MLB debut. Colorado continued the singles parade hitting two more in the sixth and scoring their sixth run of the game on a sac bunt from Melville. The Rockies small ball strategy continued to reward in the seventh. Trevor Story walked to begin the seventh, stole second, and was driven in by a Charlie Blackmon single to left field. Arizona attempted to claw their way back into the game in the bottom of the eighth. Alex Avila homered off of Jesus Tinoco to begin that inning. Ildemaro Vargas followed with a single and Ketel Marte drew a walk to follow with one out, but neither Eduardo Escobar or David Peralta could drive either man in.
The 7-2 loss finds Arizona once again, for what seems to be an innumerable amount of times this season, back at .500 this season. I’ll be traveling with them to Milwaukee to watch them take on the Brewers beginning on Friday. Both teams are clinging to the fringe of the Wild Card race, Milwaukee being 3.5 games back and Arizona 4.5 currently.
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Mike Leake: - 26.5% Pitching WPA, 6.0 IP, 8 hits, 5 earned runs
Tim MelVille: +22.4% Pitching WPA, 7.0 IP, 2 hits, 1 HR allowed, 1st career MLB hit, 2 RBI